The Fool's resident Russia expert, Rich Smith, has warned me in the past that anything can happen in this country as it lurches toward capitalism. But the more I look at Russian cell phone provider VimpelCom
First of all, let me say that the company's earnings releases stand as a model of clarity. Not only do they reveal just about all the important numbers, they explain it in English so plain that makes me wonder why American corporations can't do a better job. (They're so clear, in fact, that there's a little part of me wondering if this isn't a Machiavellian scheme to hide something awful.)
But enough of that, let's turn to the numbers. For its first quarter, net revenues were $418 million, up 71% from the prior-year period. Net income was up 74% per American depositary receipt (ADR), at $1.43 per stub. These aren't the only impressive digits. Gross margins were up 1.5% as a percentage of sales, and selling, general, and administrative costs dropped 1.9%. Churn was down a percent. Finally, it cost the firm an astounding $4 less to acquire each new user than it did last year, big savings when you consider that it added nearly 2 million subscribers during the quarter.
VimpelCom is the No. 2 carrier in Russia, behind Mobile Telesystems
Of course, this kind of growth doesn't come cheap. Not only does it chew up the firm's operating cash flow, but it also requires the occasional issue of debt. Still, the balance sheets look healthy enough, with operating cash flow high enough to pay off debt inside a year. Trading at $93, ADR shares are priced about 13 times average estimates for the full year. Given the 60% earnings growth baked into those numbers, VimpelCom looks like a deal.
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